“I don’t have bad days, only different levels of good days.”
Cardio Before Or After Weights?
Back in college I used to workout a lot! Being a collegiate basketball player, I constantly felt the need to get better each and everyday. Being blessed by two great friends to push me day in and day out, we worked out far more than anyone that I knew at the time. One thing I remember very clearly during these years was the impact that cardio had on my body if I tried doing it before a weight lifting session.
If I ever had to play pick up basketball before lifting, my workouts afterwards were always terrible. I had zero energy, zero focus, and it was basically a complete waste of time.
On the flip side of things however, if I lifted before playing, not only did I have energy while lifting but I had tons of energy and focus while playing too. After noticing such a different in the pre or post workout cardio debate, I quickly shifted over to always lifting before doing cardio.
When you are really looking to get cut, your goal is to use your stored fat as fuel for your workouts. When you exercise, your preferred energy source is glycogen. When lifting, you use mainly glycogen as fuel therefore by strength training first, you are opening up your body to burning more fat for a cardio session afterwards. This is the reason ‘Finisher’ workouts are so effective.
To dive a little deeper, take a look below at why else your cardio should always come after your weight training:
More Energy For Weights
As was stated, when we exercise we use up the glycogen that is stored in our muscles. We use glycogen as energy so when we are low on glycogen that also means we are low on energy. Doing cardio before weight training will use up your glycogen making it tougher to lift hard and heavy.
If you are looking to get strong, lean, and very cut you must maximize your time when strength training. This means it needs 100% of your focus and energy. You do not want to hold yourself back during your weight training sessions by spending time running on the treadmill.
Better Calorie Burn After Your Workouts
When you weight train, you allow your body to burn calories and fat for up to 48 hours after your training session is over. When weight training, you are tearing your muscles down forcing your body to work hard to repair them (hence also forcing your body to burn more calories and fat).
In order to maximize this “after burn” affect that weight training has on your body, you must focus on going hard in the weight room when you are there. If you are expending energy on cardio before your weights, this can have a negative affect on your caloric and fat burn because you wont have as good as a workout in the weight room.
The less productive you are in the weight room the less effective your after burn will be.
It Just Works Better…
According to a recent study done by the University of Tokyo, it showed that doing cardio post weight training burned more calories in 15 minutes than by doing cardio before weights. When you weight train first, you are maximizing your muscle gain and your fat burning. Your workouts are more focused and you are more energized.
A Better Way To Do Things
If you are going to do cardio on your weight training days, here are three great solutions you can try:
Finisher: A finisher is a high intensity workout (many times done with just bodyweight exercises) that lasts anywhere from 8-10 minutes. Finishers have been shown to bring incredible results in terms of calorie and fat burning after weight training. Your cardio sessions do not have to last for hours, a short 6-10 minute workout will do the trick.
Sprints: You by now know the love I have for sprints. Sprints can be a great addition to your post workout routine. Spend 10 minutes going through 5-8 high intensity sprints and watch as your results soar!
High Intensity Intervals: These can be done on a treadmill, rowing machine (my favorite), or stationary bike. Simply cycle through a high intensity speed followed by a recovery period and repeat. For example, sprint on the rowing machine for 250 meters, rest for 30 seconds and repeat 5-8 times.
If you don’t know by now, I never recommend doing long slow cardio aside from going on long walks. Don’t waste your time running on the treadmill for 45 minutes, there are far more efficient ways to do things. Instead, focus on doing the three cardio workouts above.
If you must have your cardio on your weight days: finish your weight training, wait five minutes, then get after it on the short cardio workout of your choice! Remember, always keep your whole workout to one hour tops.
- Warm-Up: 5-10 minutes
- Strength Training: 30-45 minutes
- Finisher/Cardio/Abs: 5-10 minutes
- Cool Down: 5-10 minutes
Crunched For Time?
If you are really crunched for time and you must get some cardio in, try adding a cardio aspect to your weight training. Maybe add in some burpees or jump rope after each exercise. This will work well and still leave you with enough energy to get a quality strength training workout in.
My Workouts Schedule For The Week:
I added in some new exercises this week plus an incredibly hard interval workout as our ‘fun day”. Take a look:
Lower Body Day
Good Mornings: 3 sets of 10 reps
Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10 reps with heavy weight
Squats: 3 sets of 7 reps with heavy weight
Front Squats: 3 sets of 7 reps
Barbell Lunges: 3 sets of 7 reps each leg
Hanging Leg Raises: 12
Ab Roll Out: 10
Decline Weighted Crunch: 12
Bicycles: 40 (20 each leg)
Repeat two times
Upper Body Day
Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps with heavy weight
Upright Row: 3 sets of 10 reps
Bent Over Row: 3 sets of 8 reps with heavy weight
Dumbbell Front Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps each arm
Rest should be 30-60 seconds between exercises
After completing the exercises above, complete the pull-up/push-up circuit below:
Complete 5 rounds as quickly as possible
“Fun” Workout This Week
Below I have thrown together a great interval workout for you to partake in. It consists of 10 different exercises and can be completed in under 15 minutes. Complete all exercises with no rest in between:
Kettlebell Swings: 30 seconds
Squat Jumps: 30 seconds
Push-Ups: 30 seconds
Pull-Ups: 30 seconds
Double Unders Jump Rope: 30 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds
Box Jumps: 30 seconds
Planks: 30 seconds
Burpees: 30 seconds
Leap Ups: 30 seconds
Quick Feet: 30 seconds
Rest 60 seconds!
Repeat one more time through! Total time= 14 minutes
Great workouts can be done in as little as 10 minutes, so push hard for all 14 minutes on this one!
I will also be sprinting 3 times this week. All my sprints will consist of is doing 10 full speed sprints at 80 yards each!